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Brain Cogn. 2009 Apr;69(3):451-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2008.09.004. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Sex differences in parietal lobe morphology: relationship to mental rotation performance.

Author information

1
University of Iowa Neuroscience Graduate Program Drive, Department of Neurology, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. timothy-koscik@uiowa.edu

Abstract

Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of the human brain have reported evidence for sexual dimorphism. In addition to sex differences in overall cerebral volume, differences in the proportion of gray matter (GM) to white matter (WM) volume have been observed, particularly in the parietal lobe. To our knowledge there have been no studies examining the relationship between the sex differences in parietal lobe structure and function. The parietal lobe is thought to be involved in spatial ability, and particularly involved in mental rotation. The purpose of this study is to examine whether sex differences in parietal lobe structure are present, and if present to relate these differences to performance on the mental rotations test (MRT). We found that women had proportionately greater gray matter volume in the parietal lobe compared to men, and this morphologic difference was disadvantageous for women in terms of performance on the MRT. In contrast, we found that men compared to women had proportionately greater parietal lobe surface area, and this morphologic difference was associated with a performance advantage for men on mental rotation. These findings support the possibility that the sexual dimorphism in the structure of the parietal lobe is a neurobiological substrate for the sex difference in performance on the mental rotations test.

PMID:
18980790
PMCID:
PMC2680714
DOI:
10.1016/j.bandc.2008.09.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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